Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Start over.
Begin Again.
"Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled and torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again; you shall never be so afraid of a tumble."
Day dream.

This weekend I bought a car. I bought a car knowing that someday I would be living out of it. I bought a car to escape. I bought a new car that is as unstoppable as me.

Not everyone understands why I want to do this so badly. Then again, not everyone respects my lifestyle. Now when I say lifestyle, you have to understand that I am talking about living my life through energy, and adventure. Though I wish I could break away from the office job, I understand that my salary pays my way for adventure. I am very fortunate in that regard. 

But I want more.
I want the highway.
I want the red rock of Utah. 
I want the simplicity of Montana.
I want the brew of the mid-west.
I want the love of New Jersey.
I want to sleep under the stars.
I want to speed my way though the back country.
I want to enjoy the simplicity of living on the road. 

I am not going to feed my soul by sitting behind this very desk.

I will feed my soul through coffee gatherings. surrounding myself with people with like minded ideals. brainstorms. day-dreams. energy. culture. giving. creating. going.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do It To It

This weekend while climbing I learned the beauty of "hand jamming". Hand jamming is when you use your hand to gain purchase in a crack by twisting, squeezing or spreading the palm, pulling your thumb down, making a fist, stacking both hands, etc. in order to continue your vertical ascent. It's essentially shoving your hand in a crack and rolling your thumb, in turn creating a grip to hold your entire body weight. Your security lies in the strength of your thumbs and palms.

As one of the tests of this weekend, I had to hand jam my way up a crack the width of three of my fingers. The task seemed daunting, and damn near impossible.
Yea, follow the arrows. 

I treat every climb as a puzzle, or a problem, eager to be solved. Maybe that's the "fixer" in me. I can't walk away without solving the problem. And for this climb, I had to get up to the top, no doubt about it. I just had to mentally figure out which way I was going to tackle it. So I geared up and began.
While going though the easy stretch as you see above, I was not only getting my morale up, but was also getting my mind spinning, preparing for the challenge ahead. The balance of this game was familiar and comfortable.
Before I knew it, the challenge was in full force. It was paralyzing. My body ached, and my hands bled as I jammed my hands into place, rolling my thumbs and praying that they could hold all 140 lbs of me, meanwhile smearing my toes against the face of the rock creating a shelf of support. Literally inching my body through the crux.
Though persistence and the cheers from my friends, I was able to turn my adrenaline onto overdrive and drop all thoughts and just go balls-to-the-wall. In fact, I think I even turned around and said "Shit just got real." to my friends below. And I was off. I was fully invested, and there was no going back. The puzzle, the game, it had to be carried out. Sure enough, with enough "elvis legs", laughing, and grunting, I got myself to a small shelf that I could grab onto, allowing me to power through towards the top.
And sure enough. I made it to the top where I was washed over with the greatest feeling of accomplishment. Rarely do I ever sit back and say "damn, I am proud of myself". But as I sat there, trying to catch my breath, looking over Smith Rock State Park, that was EXACTLY what I was saying to myself.

I couldn't help but chuckle at lifes metaphor while I was sitting up there catching my breath. Daily, we all invest in our puzzles. We work our way though the mazes and figure out how we are going to get though what seems impossible.We invest everything we have and are left relying on trust. Blind trust. With enough support, drive, and excitement we can find the beauty in the game and own it.

Own it.
Do it to it.
Rock it.

Make lifes puzzle your bitch and always remember to smile.
You would be amazed at what you can overcome.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Incident

New apartment, new decorations, new ideas....New troubles. After I moved into my new 2 bedroom apartment and got all settled in, there was still one big project left to conquer. The second bedroom. It was so empty, so clean, so perfect. Ideas for what to do with the extra room ranged from poker room, to giant fort castle, but in the end I settled for a perfectly organized gear room. I now know why men crave "man rooms" and "man caves"--cause they're awesome. And I needed one.

My vision:
So picture this, a completely organized gear room. I would mount my skis on the wall, along side my bikes, and then have shelving and racks to organize my backpacking gear/climbing gear/hiking gear, and it would be so all of my adventure toys were at my fingertips, and almost displayed in an artsy fashion. I could throw a smaller futon or couch in the room, and best part----collage the ceiling with pages/pictures from adventure magazines, and expeditions almost as a bold statement, reminding myself to never stop exploring. In my head, this looked perfect.

Problem Number One: Confidence
The next day, I went to REI and Storables and got everything I was going to need for this new project of mine. When I got home, I mounted up my ski rack with no problems. Easy sailin', looked great. The confidence was rockin. Something you need to know, which most likely will come as no surprise, but I have always taken pride in the fact that I live by a 'I don't need a man type of mentality', and as I jumped head first into the new project of mounting the bike racks to my wall, I eventually quickly realized that I had taken off more than I could chew.

Take One: The beginning
Yes, unfortunately there are multiple "takes" for this project. After putting up the ski mounts, I was feeling super tool savvy and busted out my stud finder and was measuring out all my 16" gaps in between studs, and marking where they hit, lining my bikes up with it and getting ready for the drilling stage.

[Side note. I have never drilled alone. But I figured that I was smart enough to figure it out. Which I was--go me. BUT, it didn't take long for me to screw this process up. Other side note here: I was home doing this all on my lunch hour, which was at 4 pm because I was covering Kyrstens call center shift. Time was with out a question a prominent component of this project.]

And so the drilling began. Hit a stud. I was doin' it! And then the screws started to strip. Nooo, no no no no. So I slowed it down, and jumped to the other screw. Made it about an 1/2" in and it too began to strip. Not caring, I took a hammer to it and tried it that way. Eh. Kinda worked. But here is the one of the 8,432 dilemmas of this project--there are two screws that go into the studs, and then two screws that are hanging out in the land of drywall nothing-ness.

Upon this discovery, I decided to pull out the mount and half drilled in screws from the wall, and start the process over in a less rushed manner, using the provided screw condoms (I don't know their actual name, but its the little cap things that you back your screws into.)

Take Two: Breathe
Still 30 minutes to go before my lunch break was up, I tried again. Stripped all the screws, hammers are out, f-bombs are flying out of my mouth, and no luck. It has gotten to the point where the mount has fallen out the of the wall completely. The screw condoms sucked and only bent in half, one went completely through the wall....whoops.... Now with 8 holes the size of dimes in my wall, I decided to scream and quit for the day and go back to work.

Take Three: The Mafia Came to My House
Meanwhile, I am at work and my co-worker Scott starts listening to my sob story about how I suck, and he gave me tips on using "molly bolts", or drywall hangers or what ever, completely restoring this dangerous mentality that I could do it. So I come home from work around 9:15 and I sit on the couch and all I can think about is how in the other bedroom there are drill bits, tools, bikes,covering every inch of my floor and holes and pen marks covering my walls. I can't take it. It looks like the mafia came, and shot someone 8 times and then left a mess of tools to taunt me.
"You live in Monmouth now, Melissa. Nothing is open"
"Ah yes, but I can drive to Salem"
"Why waste the gas money, and instead wait for Bi-Mart to open tomorrow"
"Because I want the problem to be fixed now"
"You're a freak."
"I know."
And this folks, was my mental conversation I had with myself before I jumped in the car and drove to the North Salem Fred Meyers. And by "drove" I mean rocketed down hwy 99, going like 85, The Mars Volta blaring, windows down, and fully preparing to get a ticket--which I didn't--awesome. Meanwhile, I looked down only to see that I had no gas. Not wanting to give my business to Shell, I drove into Independence to go to the Chevron. They were closed. CLOSED. It was an awful awful omen. In a starvation panic, I drove across the street to Mac Dons and ate basically everything that was not WW approved. Drove BACK into Monmouth and filled up at the 76, still boycotting the Shell, and then carried on my way down 99. I finally made it alive to Fred Meyers, where no one assisted me, so I was left guessing on every purchase. Surprisingly, I am a good guesser and got everything I needed. I left the store with the peace of mind that I could putty up the holes, before going to sleep. Which is exactly what I did along side the company of my new neighbor Lisa.

The next morning
Take Four: I Quit
With holes patched, I started with a clean slate. But I learned the hard way that morning that Molly Bolts are a bitch to use, even though they are "no drill", yea right, I had to hammer those suckers in. Didn't realize that you couldn't use them on the studs, which makes perfect sense now. The whole thing was just a hot, discouraging mess. I went to the office that morning (I started drilling before work, yes, I do get project obsessed) just flat out admitting defeat. I had it all planned out that I would take the bike mounts home and just return them while I was in Tualatin for Mothers Day. I was completely accepting this loss, until  co-worker Scott offered to just come over after work on Monday and do it for me. Feeling awful, I bribed him with cookies for life, and took his offer.

Monday Night
Take Five: Success!
Mother of god, Scott did it!!! Yea, I take full blame for the failure. I was doing almost everything wrong. He helped my by showing me where I had gone astray. He had more knowledge and WAY better power tools (time for a new drill dad...). I learned how to scale out drill bits with your eye versus a scale, taught me a million reasons why his drill was way better and way cooler, he told me that I blew out the drywall when I tried to use the drywall hangers, and then showed me how to fix it. Scott and I worked together for about an hour, and we were done!
I am so thrilled! Now I can't wait to start putting my gear racks together and getting the rest of the room done!! Pics of the final project will come later.